Willmar Hostess store will close Monday as part of corporate liquidation
WILLMAR -- Todd Waterman scooped up an armful of Hostess peach pies Friday morning and loaded them into a cart that he and his wife, Julie, were filling with other Hostess treats.
"We're buying extra," said Julie Waterman, of Clara City, who has shopped at least once a week at the Hostess outlet bakery store on state Highway 12 in Willmar.
This was likely her last trip to the store, however.
Early Friday news hit that Hostess Brands Inc. would be liquidated and that 18,500 employees would be terminated.
As a result, outlet stores like the one in Willmar, began selling their products at half-price when they opened for business Friday morning.
The Willmar store will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, putting nine full-time employees out of work. Some of those employees have worked at the Willmar store for 30 years.
News of the company's demise, combined with a simple sign outside the door advertising the 50 percent savings and word-of-mouth advertising by customers resulted in shelves that were quickly wiped clean of Twinkies and other popular Hostess products.
"We're going to miss this," said Julie Waterman.
"It's sad. Everybody grew up with Hostess," said Billie Jo Lane, who was standing behind the Waterman's, waiting to buy Hostess goodies for her extended family. "I grew up with this store. I grew up eating this."
After Lane took her items to the car she was back in the store, talking to a friend on her cell phone who wanted Lane to make purchases for her.
Saying he usually doesn't have sweet treats for his children, Derrick Nonweiler, of Willmar, said the sale price was too good to ignore and he bought a stack of Ding Dongs, Ho Ho's and Cup Cakes. "The kids will fly through them," he said.
Arlene McCalmant, of Paynesville, has been a steady customer at the outlet store for the last eight years. Her cart was full of Wonder bread, buns and other Hostess items that she was buying to share with her family.
"It's very sad," said McCalmant. "I heard about it on the news this morning. It's just another good thing that's gone."
For Todd Waterman the hurt has an extra sting.
He grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where a Hostess production bakery is located.
"You could smell it throughout town," he said, with a smile.
He blamed the company's demise on corporate leaders "cutting the wrong spots."
Even if the Hostess Brands name is eventually purchased by another company and items like the popular Twinkies are once again produced, it's highly unlikely that outlet stores will be re-opened, according to a Willmar store employee who asked not to be identified.
The store has been in Willmar for about 50 years, selling Hostess products that are returned from daily truck routes.